Is Solitary Confinement an Effective Means of Changing Criminal Behavior?

Posted: October 17th, 2013

Is Solitary Confinement an Effective Means of Changing Criminal Behavior?




October 31, 2011

Instructor’s Name:


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: Statement of the Problem ………………………………………….2
  2. Purpose of the Study ……………………………………………………………..3
  3. Research Hypothesis ……………………………………………………………..4
  4. Justification of the Study …………………………………………………………5
  5. Limitations of the Study …………………………………………………………6
  6. Assumptions of the Study………………………………………………………..8
  7. Terminology …………………………………………………………………….8
  8. Literature Review ……………………………………………………………….9
  9. Methodology: Participants …………………………………………………….17
  10. Informed Consent ………………………………………………………………18
  11. Data Collection …………………………………………………………………19
  12. The Questionnaire ………………………………………………………………20

Is Solitary Confinement an Effective Means of Changing Criminal Behavior?

Introduction: Statement of the Problem

Solitary confinement has been a controversial form of punishment in prison, where prisoners are confined in solitary cells. Such prisoners spend more than 23 hours of their day in solitary confinement where they do not get to talk to any body except the prison wardens on rare occasions when they are served food and when in outdoors for a few minutes. In many occasions, the prisoners are put into solitary cells not because of crimes they are in for, but for committing other crimes in the prison that are considered dangerous to other prisoners especially violence related crimes (Lovell, Cloyes, Allen, & Rhodes, 2000). Most of the solitary confined prisoners are released from prison directly to the gates or their freedom without undergoing any counseling to help them live or adapt back to free life where they are free to do anything. This has raised some concern in me whether such prisoners who serve their sentence in solitary cell are able to reform considering they do not talk to anybody in prison, which is important for changing behavior.

Considering prison is supposed to be a form of rehabilitation, solitary confinement does not help in changing criminal behavior since people cannot change their behavior without the help of others. Majority of the prisoners put in this confinement are criminals who engage in violent behavior, which can only be changed through learning to live with other people and controlling their anger around others (Yost, Knobil, Coyote, Auster & Dubrino, 2010). Behavior is influenced largely by the environment, personal factors as well as attributes of the behavior. When put in solitary confinement the prisoners have nothing to influence their behavior, and use their personal thought as days pass by inside the cell. Thoughts of such a person cannot be expected to be good when they are alone, and this might even give them more reasons to encourage criminal thoughts. Hence, there is nothing to influence them to change either for the better or for worse. In behavior model theories, social support and ecological support suggest that a person needs physical activities to enhance changing of behavior and positive motivation. A prison may not have such environments, but allowing all prisoners to take part in physical activities is better than locking them for 23 hours in a solitary cell without anybody to talk to.

From several researches, it has been found that solitary confinement has had mental effects on the prisoners, and others having psychological disorders. According to Grassian (n.d.), solitary confinement where prisoners have minimal social contact can adversely have psychiatric effects on the prisoner. He further cites that too much restriction from social and environmental stimulation can have a deleterious result on the functioning of the brain. Solitary confinement is said to ruin a man in very few weeks. People who suffer such effects may recover after sometime from imprisonment, but some could end up having little tolerance for interaction with other people. Such people may have difficulties for the rest of their life in adapting back to social life after solitary confinement for a long period.

Purpose of the Study

            Many researchers have conducted studies on the effects of solitary confinement, but few have looked at its effectiveness in changing criminal behavior. Many would argue that solitary confinement suits such violent criminals who pose a threat to others and do not seek to know why they engage in such acts of violence. Many researchers and psychologists have sought to know causes of criminal behavior, where many have proven that nature vs. nurture issue has an answer to this question. Many researchers conclude that criminal behavior is influenced by genetic make up and environmental factors. Many have cited that a person with criminal genes does not end up a criminal, but with a pre-disposition to a criminal environment, their chances of becoming criminals are high. Hence, despite genetic make up playing a role in criminal behavior, the environment plays the role of enhancing the behavior or bringing it out of the person. Without the environment to enhance criminal behavior, people with criminal genes on a higher probability may never end up engaging in crimes. Therefore, rehabilitating or changing criminal behavior requires an environment that can help the criminals overcome their genetic influence on such behaviors.

In this study, I seek to find out whether solitary confinement is an effective means of changing criminal behavior, where such people are isolated from the rest, with minimal interaction with the environment. I also intend to seek whether solitary confinement where there is no environment, either criminal or not helps in shaping the behavior of a criminal. In addition, criminals who do not end up fully rehabilitated from their criminal behavior may have a chance of engaging in criminal behavior again. In this study, I seek to find out the rate of adoption or relapsing to previous criminal behaviors for solitary confined inmates. More still, from this study, I intend to find out what happens to solitary confined inmates after they are released, whether they are able to adapt back to the society, or are there long-term psychological effects of their solitary confinement that may play a role in adapting back to social life. More so, this study will be comparing recidivism among those confined in solitary cells and those in general population, to give an insight of what means is more effective (Lovell & Johnson, n.d.).

Research Hypothesis

H1: Solitary confinement is not effective in changing criminal behavior

H0: Solitary confinement is effective in changing criminal behavior.


H1: Solitary confinement has many adverse long-term psychological effects on the inmates

H0: Solitary confinement does not have adverse long-term psychological effect on inmates.


H1: The rate of recidivism of solitary confinement is higher compared to other inmates

H0: The rate of recidivism of solitary confinement is lower compared to other inmates

Justification of the Study

            Considering the rate of crime is going higher everyday and more people continue to flock the prisons, there is need for finding out what means of changing criminal behavior is more effective, in an effort to reduce the rate of crime as well as recidivism to crime. Conducting a study on whether solitary confinement acts as an effective means of changing behavior will play an important role in the fight against crime. Moreover, considering that many of those who engage in criminal behavior have a violent and neglected childhood, putting them in solitary confinement may act counteractively in changing their criminal behavior since being neglected at a tender age contributed to their criminal behavior, which is the same with solitary confinement where prisoners are isolated (, n.d.). From the many researches carried out, there has been a strong indication of the fact that solitary confinement does have adverse long-term effects on the inmates, and may not act to change their behavior; hence, seeking to prove this statement may be of great importance in reforming criminals from their behaviors. This study will provide information whether adding more to their punishment is the best way to change their behavior, or could giving them social support to change their behavior probably be better?

The result of this study will play a crucial role in illustrating whether solitary confinement should be used as a means of changing criminal behavior in the future. In addition, considering the study will also seek to find out the recidivism rate of this type of confinement, it will provide crucial information concerning how effective it has been. More so, in seeking the recidivism rate and long-term effects of solitary confinement in adjusting back to the society, the study will provide results concerning the life of those who served solitary confinement and how their life has been since their release. Have they managed to stay away from crime because they do not want to be back in solitary confinement, or is it because the effects of the confinement have made them incapable of crime? In addition, the results will provide an insight concerning whether the psychiatric effects of solitary confinement guarantee that an inmate will not want to be in the same situation again; hence, the results will tell whether the severe punishment motivates the criminals never to relapse to their criminal activities ever again, considering this is the worst form of punishment.

The court does not sentence people to serve their sentences in solitary confinement except for the terrorists who pose a threat to the nation. Solitary confinement for others is declared by the prison authorities depending on the behavior of the prisoner inside prison. It is important to note that majority of the prisoners are criminals, and could all contribute to violence in prisons. However, not all may be confined in isolation. Hence, solitary confinement is meant to correct violent behavior in prisons, but is it efficient when the prisoners are released upon serving their sentences. Results of this question will provide information on whether confining them will help them change their behavior once released. The whole results of the study will provide the criminology department with enough information about solitary confinement ability to change or not to change criminal behavior.

Limitations of the Study

            There are several limitations to this study considering the nature of the subjects involved. Many of the inmates who have served and are serving in this form of confinement find it quite hard to talk about the subject due to fear of victimization, and in addition, the effect of the solitary confinement makes it difficult to communicate effectively while expressing their feelings. In proving whether the inmates are able to change due to solitary confinement, not many of the ex-convicts in solitary confinement may prove this if they have psychiatric effects.

The other limitation is having access to files of the inmates who are confined in solitary cells considering they fear victimization from their records. From several researches, this has been a problem where permission has to be sought before such information is given, including why they are in solitary cells. Considering prisoners put in solitary cells are confined until they finish their sentence, there may be no prove whether they manage to change violent behaviors in side prison. Thus, there can be no record of their behavior after solitary confinement in the prisons; hence, the study has to make its own observations that will require time to notice the behavior.

The other limitation comes from finding people who are already released from prison to give an account of their experiences and how their lives have turned out to be since their release and how coping with a world that had been denied to them for years has been. Finding such people is hard considering that some might be intolerant to social interaction, and end up showing their whereabouts to very few people. Hence, proving whether some of them have refrained from criminal behavior because of fear of going back to prison again or because they underwent mental difficulties that have had long-term effects, leaving them incapable of crime will not be easy since not many may answer this correctly.

More so, if such people are involved in crime again yet to be caught, they are not likely to provide such information that could send them to jail, proving the recidivism rate may not be easy if a person has not been caught by the law yet. For better result, there will be a need to observe and interview those who have just been released from prisons after serving their solitary confinement and those who were released more than a year from the time of the study to access the rate of adapting back to normal life. In addition, it will be hard to find out what their previous life before conviction was when they were arrested and their current behavior to illustrate the changes that have occurred since the release.

Assumptions of the Study

To complete this study, several assumptions have to be made without necessarily affecting the results significantly. The selected participants in the study are from Texas, and it is assumed that they represent all of the prisoners who have been released from solitary confinement in the state. The other participants have been selected from several prisons to make the study more comprehensive and it is assumed they may not be released from solitary confinement until their sentence is over since we have not come across any of the prisoners in the prisons who has been to the solitary and is out. It is also assumed that the subjects or the inmates were the most dangerous and violent inside prison since the prison authorities make us believe it is so. It is also assumed that the prisoners interviewed had no psychiatric conditions before they were put in solitary cell considering mentally ill people are discouraged from being put under such confinement.


Recidivism rate: The rate at which the released prisoners are likely to relapse back to criminal activities or behavior

Solitary confinement: This is the act of holding prisoners their own cells, which are just big enough to accommodate their basic amenities such as toilet and sink. The prisoners spend around 23 hours of their day inside these cells away from social interaction. It is also called Intensive Management Units (IMUs).

Control units and Supermax: Have been used interchangeably with solitary confinement, segregation and isolation.

Criminal behavior: The behavior of wanting to get into crime most of the time

Past felony: Previously committed crimes

Subjects: These are the prisoners and ex-prisoners that the study is centered upon

Participant:    They are all the people involved in the study, ranging from prisoners, prison authorities and wardens together with family members of the subjects.

Mental disturbances and psychiatric disorders: These terms have been used interchangeably to explain the abnormal brain conditions of those confined in solitary cells.

Rehabilitation: The act of helping a person to live independently from a previous behavior, which in this topic means reducing the recidivism rate

Literature Review

            When a person is sentenced to prison, many people know that it will be a better way of rehabilitating them by taking away their freedom and time, which everybody wishes to have. However, some prisoners face even worse than that through solitary confinement. The court does not sentence people to serve in solitary confinement, but it is usually because of criminal activities in prison that cause them to go to solitary cells. What makes it the worst form of punishment is the fact that a prisoner does not get any right to leave the concrete wall, for a whole day except a few minutes everyday (Siegel, 2009). This makes it quite inhumane for the prisoners who do not even have a chance to talk to another human being. This has been known to have many effects on the person and has raised the question whether solitary confinement is a way of rehabilitating people or just a form of punishment. Considering that changing of behavior requires the influence of other people, solitary confinement does not provide all the necessary needs for change since there is no contact with other people; thus, solitary confinement does not rehabilitate criminal behavior.

It has been cited by many researchers that putting a person in isolation is a sure way of making them go insane (Rodriguez, 2011). Solitary confinement puts prisoners in isolation from other people and physical activities for around 23 hours a day, leaving only one hour for the prisoners to be outside, alone without any human contact. The only people they are able to talk to are the prison guards on rare occasions during the day. A research conducted on solitary confined people showed that solitary confined persons had a higher probability of developing pathologies at a rate of 28% vs. 15% of the general population (Rodriguez, 2011). Furthermore, it has been cited that solitary confined prisoners are likely to engage in self-mutilation at higher rates than other general population inmates are. It is evident that solitary confinement has quite a negative effect on the psychology of the person and their mental health (Haney, 2003).

According to Grassian (n.d.), after solitary confinement was introduced in America, many thought it was a good idea of criminal rehabilitation. However, he further cites that the results were catastrophic since so many of the prisoners developed severe psychiatric effects, making the solitary confinement face more disfavors from people. The mental disturbances and their severity were so high among the prisoners put under this confinement. “The paradigmatic psychiatric disturbance was an agitated confusional state which, in more severe cases, had the characteristics of a florid delirium, characterized by severe confusional, paranoid, and hallucinatory features …”( Grassian, n.d. p.328). He further cites that even among people who had no prior disturbances, such behaviors were observed after they were confined, including self-violence. It also contributed to exacerbation of previously observed mental conditions to a severe level. These conditions make it difficult for such individuals to adapt back even to the other prison environment after they are released from isolation (Mears, 2008).

When such people are released back into the community, they are expected to live a normal life and become productive members of the community, without going back to criminal behaviors, which is the aim of sentencing a person to jail. However, the truth is on to the contrary, with many of them having the worst difficulties of adapting back to social life that is crucial if a person is to become productive again (Sharon, 2010). In most cases, such effects leave the individual with an impairment or ability of reforming back to their sufficient normal brain activity to engage in productive work in the community. Grassian (n.d.), further cites that even with a few days in solitary confinement, a person will soon start developing incapability of adequate maintenance of alertness to the environment with his or her attention going down, shifting the electroencephalogram (EEG) pattern to an abnormal one with characteristics of trance and confusion as well as hallucinations (Grassian n.d.).

According to the above literature, what solitary confinement does is impair people from responding to the environment and other usual stimuli, which they find too much to bear after solitary confinement and react by avoiding it as much as possible. In my opinion, this is not a way of rehabilitating; rather, it is a form of incapacitating a prisoner. Putting a person in solitary confinement ceases to be rehabilitation and turns into a mental torture where the individual is put under circumstances that impair the brain from functioning, as it should. Rehabilitation has been defined generally as a means of helping a person become independent physically, mentally emotionally and socially. Drawing from the meaning, criminal behavior rehabilitation means helping a person become independent and free from crime through giving social, emotional mental and physical help. It is meant to reduce recidivism of going back to crime after prison. Solitary confinement does not offer any of this. Rather, it takes away everything in the meaning and hence, solitary confinement should not be considered a means of rehabilitation, but a means of incapacitating a person from acting as themselves considering all the impairment effects it leaves in a person (Lenzner, 2006).

In terms of reducing crime relapsing for violent people, solitary confinement does help since it incapacitates them from engaging in violent behavior again after a long period of solitary confinement. People who go through solitary confinement find it hard to adapt back to their usual life since they are impaired in responding to the environment and other stimulus around them. Such people only want to hold back and withdraw from all forms of interaction with other people or the environment. Such an individual may not be in a position to engage back to criminal activities, and neither can they engage in social productive activities (Kurki & Morris, 2001). This raises the concern of whether prison should be a place of incapacitating criminals mentally or whether it should act to help them change their behavior since incapacitating a person does not change behavior. In addition, when such people are released to the public again, they do not have a means of earning a decent livelihood and adapting to a free life might even be harder. This may increase their chances of engaging in crime again.

Considering that rehabilitation of criminal behavior is supposed to be a means of ensuring criminals do not relapse for criminal activities again, the best way of helping them should not be confining them in solitary cells. There are several studies carried out on the best means of rehabilitating criminal behavior. According to Wright (2011), education is one way of rehabilitating offenders to prevent them from going back to criminal behavior upon release. He cited that many of the offenders end up in jail again after release due to lack of decent means of living and social circumstances force them into crime again. Majority of criminals end up in crime out of circumstances such as lack of a stable economic activity to support them. Hence, providing education to inmates increases their chances of making a better living since they can secure better jobs to sustain them upon release.

Much research has indicated that most of the inmates are lowly educated, and increasing their knowledge will give them a better chance of securing jobs. More so, some inmates may have served in the prison for a long time and their knowledge may not be relevant to the current time; hence, giving them a chance to upgrade their knowledge will be better than confining them in solitary cells. To reduce violence in prison, education and counseling is a better way of inspiring the inmates to change, since keeping them busy reduces their chances of engaging in criminal activities inside prison. In addition to education and counseling, physical activities such as games and exercise facilities within prison facility can pre-occupy them and reduce violence.

According to Godoy (2006), California has over the last 20 years been isolating inmates more and more in a bid to reduce violence in prison and gangs in the community. However, both of what they have been aiming to do has increased tremendously, suggesting their efforts are not rewarded. There are worries that solitary confinement could be making it worse than it was. She further says that majority of the solitary confined inmates are due to be released sometime back into the public, and the only help they get to adapt back to normal life is a few weeks in a local prison, which she says does little or nothing to help them. One has to ask whether the solitary confinement has shaped them or are they still the same people without any change or mentally disturbed. In the Pelican Bay isolation, the only way to get out is through proving to prison wardens and authority that one has not been involved in any gang for a period of not less than six years, or tell everything about your gang, which might take two years. One of the isolated members in the prison says that the place is not designed to rehabilitate but to break down. He says that it made him different, and spiteful (Godoy, 2011).

On the other hand, one of the wardens says that it may make prisoners a little mad for sometime, but it has much benefit such as taking people who might be a threat to the public from the streets as well as keeping the other inmates safe. On to the contrary, another of the prison officials who has served for a long time says that solitary confinement, which he referred to as Supermax facility, says that after they put prisoners in the solitary facilities, some behaved even worse. Some of the inmates would spit on them as they passed by, pour urine on them and some would even smear urine and feces on themselves, out of frustration and some out of spitefulness. He clearly says that it made their behavior worse then they were, leaving him to wonder about the effectiveness of the Supermax facility (Luce, 2010).

Godoy (2011) cites that currently, solitary confinement has changed in some ways with some regulation about who goes to solitary and for how long. However, she cites that changing the system does not mean changing the inmate, which is supposed to be the aim of the solitary cell. It has now been made clear that putting inmates in isolation is not going to work. However, putting the dangerous ones in the general population in prisons is not going to work for them either. Therefore, a balanced approach for such people needs to be used for maximum results. One prison warden says that prisoners he had good terms with while at general population turned out to be the opposite when put in solitary confinement (Burkhead, 2007). He talks of how he was on good terms with some of them until they were taken to the solitary cells where they never talked to him even for a moment, and some become hostile. Once they are in the solitary cell, an attitude of the inmates vs. the prison officers builds up, where the prisoners feel they are there because of them. The warden further cites that putting the inmates in isolation does not do them any good, and considering that one day they will be neighbors, it does not do the society any good either. Hence, solitary confinement should be rethought (Godoy 2011).

It has been proven that inmates who spend much of their time in solitary confinement in prison have a high recidivism rate than those who spend their sentences in general prison population. Many of them are likely to go back for violent crimes again since they suffer lack of tolerance to social interactions, which might trigger abnormal reactions to such interaction (Beck, 1997). Many of the solitary confined inmates are not able to adapt to the social life, and many may end up becoming worse considering the effects they have gone through. More so, many are not able to engage in meaningful work for self-upkeep since they do not like crowded places anymore.

The situation is worse for those who may not have families to go to and some may not even be accepted back and end up in crime again. It is not a wish they make, but circumstances force them to look for all ways of surviving. This was found in two studies on prisoners who were freed from solitary confinement in Washington and Texas, where the results showed that they had a higher recidivism rate, and they were most likely to engage in violent crimes (Godoy, 2011). Considering that the need for prison is to rehabilitate such behaviors and ensure the least recidivism rate, solitary confinement seems to be doing hardly anything if not the opposite of its purpose. In reality, solitary confinement largely protects other inmates and guards, and at least, the community until they are released again into the public where they might commit more crime.

In a research that interviewed an ex-convict who served 18 years of his 25 years sentence in solitary confinement, it states that the he does not socialize with people since he lost his social skills. He lives with the mother who provides for him and is now taking a welding class, which has not been easy for him since he does not like talking to anybody. More so, he does not talk to anybody, does not go to social places, and has no friends. He says that he is his best companion, and does not need anybody’s company and spends time sitting in the front yard just to look at motorists passing by. His greatest struggle in life is adapting back to the society and the mother says he is not the same person she knew.

Godoy (2011) cites that the increase of solitary confinement illustrates a failure of policies used in prison to rehabilitate the inmates. She says that due to the increase of prison population, segregating some has become so widespread, and budgets for prisons are going up everyday making it impossible to provide rehabilitation facilities such as counseling and education. People in solitary confinement require more help than others do considering they are more violent. Instead, solitary confinement does the opposite by putting them in such isolation where no help is accorded, which my make them even worse especially mentally. It is known that prisoners who are offered education and counseling therapy are more likely to refrain from crime ever again since they can make a decent livelihood. However, considering that some might be quite dangerous in prisons, isolation could be helpful to protect the general population, but should not be in an inhumane manner that denies them any interaction needed for their rehabilitation such as contact with people (Roth, 2006). This way, the prison will not rehabilitate them if there is no provision of such interaction in the solitary cell that allows them to exercise their mind and body. Solitary confinement for such long hours a day for several years makes them insane, which is not part of rehabilitation (O’Keefe & Colorado, 2010).

When people in segregation cannot bear the harsh conditions and mental disturbances start occurring, self-harm starts to linger in their mind, and some even result to suicide. According to Rodriguez (2011), the rate of suicide in prison is going up, with 70% of those who committed suicide in 2005 being in solitary confinement. More so, he cites that it has been a trend, giving a statistics of 1986 on a study of 401 jails nationally where 2 out of 3 for the prisoners who committed suicide were confined under control units or solitary confinement. In 2007, a study showed that solitary confinement contributed largely to suicidal thoughts of prisoners, where some commit suicide out of the mental condition they are. Some said they heard voices, and lost control of their thought, and this is where suicidal thought comes in. Rodriguez (2011) further affirms that a research carried out in 2006 has indicated that solitary confinement is counter productive and often leads to violence in prisons, and a higher recidivism rate especially for inmates who are released directly from the solitary confinement. The rate was 64% for those who were released directly from solitary confinement to 41%, for those who were taken back to the general population before release. He cites that segregation does not make better people but worse than they were, with mental conditions. Hence, segregation only serves to punish (Roesch & Gagnon, 2007).

Methodology: Participants

            To complete this study, a selection of the right participants will have to be made who can provide credible information for best results. The best participants will be the subjects, who in this case are inmates who have had an experience with solitary confinement and those who are released from jail, as well as those who never served in solitary confinement for comparison to how their life inside prison and outside prison differs or correlate. For the subjects, they will be put under observation for a period. Their behaviors will be observed and put down. To assert that solitary confinement has contributed to the condition or behaviors they are in, another group of participants will be taken. This group could be anybody who wishes to volunteer for the purpose of the study. Before they are accepted, their current and past mental health will be taken. After volunteering, they will be put under solitary confinement; the same kind that the inmates go through, for a period of not less than a few weeks. They will be observed and their behavior as well as mental health will be examined after the confinement for comparison.

Other participants will be wardens in the prison who have interacted with the subjects during their solitary confinement in prisons. Their information will give reasons why prisoners are sent to jail and highlight on the behavior of the inmates before entering the solitary confinement and when they leave solitary cells, on whether they behave the same, or what changes are observed? Other participants will be close relatives of the released inmates to give an account of what behaviors the solitary confined take up after they are released from prison.

Informed Consent

            All participants especially volunteers will be informed of all the procedures they will undergo considering they will be put under solitary confinement for some weeks and they may not be released despite their pleas for the sake of the study. The duration will be determined before they are confined. Their mental health before and after the confinement will be kept confidential and under no circumstance unless they so wish, shall their names be mentioned. Hence, their names will only remain with the researchers for their signature of acceptance to confinement. They will be informed of the dangers of such confinement before they are required to sign.

There will be informed consent for all the inmates and ex-convicts that their names shall not be used without their consent, and their records will not be used against them, but only for research purposes. Those who wish for their names to appear in the research will have to sign that they agree to such terms. For those who do not wish their names to appear, they will not be required to sign to such terms. However, to prove that such a study took place, their signatures will be required just for that purpose, and their roles will not be mentioned in the research itself. The signatures are to remain with the study group for filing purposes only. The prison wardens will be treated the same way, and their names will not be mentioned in the research unless they want. Names mentioned by prison officials will not be included either in the research unless the particular person agrees. Close relative will also be told of their roles in the research, and any information they may not want appearing in the research will be reserved

Data Collection

            Data collection will come from the participants. Information about the inmates may be provided by the Planning and Research office, and the Department of Corrections, which can provide the following data:

1) Infractions File: this data file will provide the types of infractions, their dates, and sanctions, as will as offenders.

2) Principle offender file: this provides several details of an offender such as age, ethnicity, sex, current offence, their date of confinement and release, mental conditions, and identity. This is for every incarceration served by the offender, and those who go back to prison have more than one.

3) Movement file: this provides information about offenders location of custody, where they are moved, the movement codes as well as location codes and reasons of movement.

More information will come from the prison wardens and officials concerning the records of the inmates. All other information will come from interviews and observations of the confined group.

The data from the movement file will be used to identify those who served in Supermax or IMU facilities during their terms, and those still serving their sentence. From this file, the participants to be used will be identified, especially those who are already released. In addition, we can be able to know the amount of time served in solitary confinement as well as release. From the other two files, we are able to know the type of offences the offenders served and past felonies if any.

The Questionnaire

            The study will use open-ended questionnaire as well as closed questions for better results. For the inmates inside solitary cells, the questions will mostly be open to observe their response and relevance to questions in order to observe any signs of unusual mental conditions.

Questions could include:

  • Why they are in isolation
  • What is their routine
  • Who they talk to
  • Do they wish to be back to general population
  • What are they finding hard

For those who are already released, questions could include:

  • What is the most difficult thing in their life now?
  • Have they been able to make friends?
  • Do they have a stable job?
  • Do they enjoy their freedom and are they happy to interact with people? Why?
  • Have they been accepted?
  • What was their hardest thing in solitary confinement or what could they not stand after solitary confinement?

Other participants will only find observations of the inmates who were isolated from others and tell of the changes they observed in them. For the volunteers, the questions will resemble the one above and observation from the researcher. Their behavior will be compared with their previous behavior.



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